NEW YORK — Audrey Geisel, the widow of children’s author Dr. Seuss and longtime overseer of his prolific and lucrative literary estate, has died.
Random House Children’s Books announced that she died Wednesday at age 97 at her home in La Jolla, California.
Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Geisel, died in 1991 and two years later Audrey Geisel founded Dr. Seuss Enterprises. Over the past quarter century “Dr. Seuss” has proved a highly profitable, multimedia brand, from books and films to theme park rides and the Broadway show “Seussical.”
According to Random House, more than 10 million Dr. Seuss books sell each year and new works continue to come out, such as last spring’s “Dr. Seuss’s First 100 words.”
The 2000 film version of “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” which starred Jim Carrey, was a box-office smash, although Audrey Geisel despised — as did critics — the 2003 adaptation of “The Cat In the Hat” that starred Mike Myers of “Austin Powers” fame.
“I never saw ‘Austin Powers,’ but I knew ‘Yeah, baby!’ and I didn’t want ‘Yeah, baby!’ at all,” she told The Associated Press in 2004.
Geisel is credited as executive producer of last month’s film release “The Grinch,” which stars Benedict Cumberbatch.
She was a Chicago native and former nursing student at Indiana University whose parents broke up when she was little and who as an adult would be in the middle of two broken marriages.
She and Theodor Geisel, who was 17 years older, were both married to others when they began an affair in the 1960s. Theodor Geisel’s first wife, Helen, killed herself and Audrey Geisel sent away the two daughters she had with her first husband after she and the author married in 1968.
“They wouldn’t have been happy with Ted, and Ted wouldn’t have been happy with them. He’s the man who said of children, ‘You have ’em and I’ll entertain ’em,'” Geisel, who later reconciled with her daughters, told The New York Times in 2000. “Ted’s a hard man to break down, but this is who he was. He lived his whole life without children, and he was very happy without children. I’ve never been very maternal. There were too many other things I wanted to do. My life with him was what I wanted my life to be.”